The Trail Smoke Eaters make the long drive to Surrey today to revisit the Eagles after a dominating 19-3 victory on Saturday at the Cominco Arena.
“It will be a different team,” said Smoke Eater coach and GM Cam Keith. “Trail is a different kind of arena than Surrey, from what I remember it’s Olympic ice, so it will be more of a challenge for us.”
While the 19 goals is undoubtedly a Smoke Eater team record for the BCHL, it is still nine goals shy of the BCHL record.
The Surrey Leader reported that in the wild, free-wheeling 1980s, 20-goal games were posted sporadically in the league, many by the powerhouse Penticton Knights, led in consecutive years by future National Hockey League stars Brett Hull and Joe Murphy.
In 1985, the Murphy-led Knights defeated the Salmon Arm Totems 28-5 in a game that according to the BCHL, is the highest one-game goal total by a team in league history.
Following a 6-3 loss to Langley on Friday, the lopsided win keeps the Smoke Eaters in the thick of a quest for second place, and a first-round bye in the playoffs, seven points back of the second-place Vernon Vipers.
Amazingly, the 14-26-3-0 Eagles are still in the hunt for a playoff berth – in the Interior Division. The fifth place-Mainland Division Eagles are five points back of the Interior’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks and if they can surpass Salmon Arm, they’ll cross over into the Interior Division playoffs as per the league’s new postseason format.
Following the Surrey matchup tonight, the Smokies play a strong 28-9-5-0 Chilliwack Chiefs team on Friday and a not-so-strong 9-34-1-2 Coquitlam Express on Saturday.
“We have to get some of these road games done and it’s good for us to do three of them in a row on the Mainland, and there’s no afternoon games,” said Keith. “It’s the Mainland so there’s not a ton of travel from rink to rink, so it’s a good opportunity for us to hopefully string some wins together.”
Trail beat the Chiefs at home 3-1 back on Nov. 25, but Chilliwack has been on fire since Christmas winning seven in a row, including a string of three-straight victories over the league-leading Wenatchee Wild.
Led by forward Jordan Kawaguchi, 27 goals and 57 points, and Kohen Olischefski, 49 points, the Chiefs combine a potent offence with a dependable defence. The Chiefs have scored the third most goals, 173, in the BCHL and lit up Wenatchee (the league’s second best defensive team) with 17 tallies in their three wins last month, while allowing the fifth fewest goals against this season, 122.
The Express, meanwhile, have struggled this season, but have won three of their last eight games, and beat Cowichan Valley 6-3 last week, before falling 3-0 to the Wild on Saturday.
The upcoming games pose a prime opportunity for Trail to make a move on the 22-13-4-3 Vipers who play the Merritt Centennials, West Kelowna Warriors, and Powell River Kings this week.
Trail’s next home game goes Jan. 28 when they host the Penticton Vees.